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'Bomb the enemy. Not us'
Villagers warn US over stray missiles James Meek in Ganikhel, Afghanistan
Monday October 29, 2001 The Guardian
Mezhzakhan squatted in the dirt, barefoot, in grimy grey clothes and a golden cap. The noonday sun was fierce but he was shivering uncontrollably. He had been shivering for 20 hours, ever since the clock stopped in his house, when the American bomb fell and killed his wife.
Mezhzakhan had never met an American, only seen their aircraft as specks in the sky overhead. But he had heard over the radio, as had the rest of this rambling plains village, that they were on his side, and against the Taliban.
Now, with his wife Koko Gol buried, with his two children, his mother and his brother injured in hospital, he was in shock, desolate and inconsolable. Asked if he felt hostile towards the US, he said: "Why not? My wife is dead. The Americans destroyed our family. What should I do? They should bomb the enemy. Not us."
If the clock still hanging on the first-floor wall of the ruined family house stopped at the exact moment the bomb hit, it struck at 4.29pm. Koko Gol, 30, was in the house sewing clothes for her brother-in-law's wedding in two day's time when she was killed. Her husband was a short distance away, tending the sheep.
"I heard the explosion and ran towards the house," said Mezhzakhan. "I ran home and I saw everyone under the clay, under the collapsed roof. We began to pull out our dead and wounded."
Among the injured were Mezhzakhan's five-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter. They endured a 90-minute drive to the nearest thing to a proper hospital in the area, on unpaved roads up the Panjshir valley. Estimates of the number of injured varied, but the Guardian learned of 11, from two families - both displaced from other nearby villages - living in the house.
Tell-tale sign The single bomb reduced the central part of the house to mounds of earthy lumps and dust. Among the rubble was a twisted metal fragment of the bomb casing and a swivelling fin from the bomb tail, the tell-tale sign that it was from a US aircraft and that it was guided, either by satellite or by laser - a so-called precision weapon. Some of the rooms were half intact, bearing the signs of ordinary people trying to make a settled haven amid poverty and war - a piece of green fabric stretched across the rude dirt partition in place of plaster, the clock, a photograph of Mezhzakhan's brother in Iran, wearing a San Francisco 49ers T-shirt. Yesterday morning Koko Gol's body was borne, decked in flowers, to the burial place in the village cemetery. Her grave is a six-foot earthen barrow, marked at each end with roughly carved wooden pegs, crowned by a barricade of thorn branches weighed down with stones, to stop the beasts trampling it.
After she was buried, a local elder, Kamaruddin, addressed a crowd of weatherbeaten male peasants who sat cross-legged in the dust. The women remained barely visible, hiding their faces in the shadows on the perimeter. His words, to a committed anti-Taliban audience in an area firmly under the control of the supposedly US-friendly Northern Alliance, make uncomfortable listening for the west.
"A woman has been killed. She had wishes in life, but we must think of Allah, and how we are subordinate to his will," he said. "The Americans come here, drop their bombs on Afghanistan and kill innocent people. We cannot condone this, although we ourselves are guilty. We were the ones to invite them here."
Among the villagers there was dismay and confusion rather than outright anger against the US, and warnings that tolerance was limited.
"We support America, because it's against terrorism, it has begun the fight, but we will not forgive such mistakes if they happen again," said Naim Saffi, a local military commander. "We think this bombing was intentional, because the Americans' weapons are very accurate. The frontline is a long way away from us and they promised they would not bomb civilians."
Ganikhel yesterday was a disarmingly peaceful place, shaded with willows and mulberry trees, with ducks paddling in ditches, men steering bullock plough teams and dusty children giggling among the clay compounds. Yet despite Saffi's words, it is not far from the frontline as seen from the air - less than three miles. It was only a month ago that the villagers returned there after a long bout of artillery duels between Taliban and alliance forces. Perhaps most depressing for non-Afghans trying to see a way to a post-Taliban settlement. Ganikhel is a model of the kind of ethnic harmony the country as a whole has found it so hard to create: roughly half ethnic Tajik, dominant in the north, and half Pashtun, dominant in the south.
Into this, the Americans dropped a bomb. Northern Alliance areas are alive with rumours that US specialists are here, guiding each bomb to its proper target and in tight coordination with alliance officials. But they never coordinated anything with Mezhzakhan and Koko Gol. "Certainly there's no coordination. They work without any coordination," said Emamjan, a local mojahedin commander standing by the rubble, as confused as anyone. "There should be communication between us and them, but it depends on the high-ups. They answer for us. They have links with the Americans. It's not our business."
-- clivus (email@example.com), October 29, 2001
This makes me mad. Obviously, in a war, some civilians are going to get hit, no matter how hard we try to avoid it. It's called collateral damage. Even with precision armaments, when these are used in volume, no precision armaments are going to be so perfectly precise that they, somehow, miraculously miss all civilians, and hit only military targets all of the time.
Yet, now we are getting one sob story after another--13 civilians here, 10 there, etc. The media seem to thrive on these. What does the total come to, after 3 weeks of bombardment? Fifty? One hundred? How does that even begin to compare to the 6,000 innocent American lives that were snuffed out within a two hour period on Sept. 11?
I say keep pounding away. Sure, always try to avoid hitting innocent civilians, but let's not let that deter us from our ultimate goal--restoring civilization, so that no more September 11ths will ever again be in our--or any other civilized country's--future.
-- Uncle Fred (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 29, 2001.
One idea is that the US should stop the war once 6,000 people are killed there. Given the near cessation of food aid, this figure is probably close to being reached already.
No disrespect to the dead and relatives, but a majority of the victims in New York were citizens of other countries. Indeed, the number of British victims were greater than from any IRA attack, almost by an order of magnitude. There's an article posted on www.cryptome.org that lists the casualties by nationality.
Starving a significant chunk of the Afghan civilian population is likely to encourage recruitment for al-Qaeda next year. You don't have to be a pacifist to see that our policy there is counter-productive. If we were interested in averting World War Three, we'd be trying to separate (politically) the majority of the Muslim world from the al-Qaeda message -- the bombing is instead having the opposite result.
-- mark (email@example.com), October 29, 2001.
According to all the reports that I have seen there are no reporters on the ground in Taliban controlled areas of Afghanistan. If there were they would be executed as spies. So who is putting out all of this disinformation. The Taliban.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 29, 2001.
Mark Robinowitz: According to the taliban you are the reason for the war. YOU personally. You are Jewish. May I suggest you keep your mouth quite and hope the Americans get the taliban regardless... for you and your family's sake. I as a Christian would love to defend you and your family but Uncle Sam does not take old men like me to fight for our country.
-- Rick V (email@example.com), October 29, 2001.
One idea is that the US should stop the war once 6,000 people are killed there. Given the near cessation of food aid, this figure is probably close to being reached already. Mark Robinowitz
Man you are either extremely careless or you purposefully try and spread false information! After reading many of your posts, I suspect is is both!
Check the source of how food aid is going.
It is FAR from "near cessation".
all one has to do is look at the daily update from World Food Program (www.wfp.org)
From todays report --
Since the beginning of October, WFP and its partner non- governmental organisations (NGOs) have delivered food rations for two million people inside Afghanistan - equivalent to one third of the total number of Afghans who need food aid.
WFP food convoys: latest 10/29/01
WFP has been able to step up deliveries from countries neighbouring Afghanistan.
Peshawar, North West Pakistan: today, WFP loaded 1,500 metric tonnes of food aid.
WFP food aid deliveries into Afghanistan continue from both Tajikistan and Iran
WHY are they able to "step up delivery"??
Because the US arranges food convoys, to deliver US aid, from IRAN
Afghan Food Delivery to Transit Iran
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran has agreed to allow the delivery of U.S. food aid through its territory to Afghanistan and the construction of a refugee camp on its soil near the border, relief officials said.
The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic revolution. But as Washington has been putting together an anti-terror coalition the past month, delicate communications have been passed between the two countries.
Marius de Gaay Fortman, a coordinator for the World Food Program, said 45,000 tons of American wheat will arrive in Iran in early November to be delivered to the Afghan people through Iran.
A U.S. ship delivering the wheat will not come to Iran, he said, but rather the supplies will be transferred to another ship provided by the agency in international or Pakistani waters.
Fortman told reporters that another 20,000 tons of wheat donated by the United States will arrive in Pakistan early November, and by December there will be a consignment of 100,000 tons of American wheat for Afghanistan through Iran and Pakistan.
Iran accepted U.S. relief for itself - delivered through international agencies - after destructive earthquakes in 1997 and 1990. This was the first time the government has accepted to open the way for U.S aid on route for Afghanistan. On Tuesday, a senior U.S. official said in Washington that Iran has conveyed to the United States through Swiss intermediaries that it would try to rescue any American military personnel it found in distress on its territory.
Tehran has also allowed refugee camps to be set up on its territory just along the border with Afghanistan in case of an influx of people fleeing the fighting, a Red Cross official said. Iran, already home to some 2 million Afghan refugees, has resisted accepting more in the current crisis.
Setting up the camps at the border will allow easy access to refugees and facilitate relief operations, Astrid Heiberg, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told a news conference.
Heiberg said concern is growing that a large number of Afghans will head to the Iranian border as fighting escalates inside Afghanistan and winter approaches. She did not elaborate.
Iran's top decision-making body, the Supreme National Security Council, made the decision on the camps Wednesday after the Taliban refused to allow the camps in Afghanistan, Ahmad Ali Norbala, head of the Iran Red Crescent Society, said at the news conference.
International aid workers pulled out of Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States, leaving local staffers to try to run the operations.
In Vienna, Austria, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, said Thursday that so far Afghans have not fled in high numbers into neighboring nations, rather they have been fleeing cities to hide in the countryside
But the commissioner is preparing for the worst case scenario of 1.5 million refugees as the crisis sharpens. So far, bout 50,000 Afghan refugees have arrived in Pakistan since Sept. 11.
-- Jackson Brown (Jackson_Brown@deja.com), October 29, 2001.
Muslim extremists practice violent barberism all over the world. They are always breaking into Christian or Catholic churches and brutaly conducting mass murder. Be it the Taliban, or some other segment of the extreme views, usually enforced with brainwashing. Their goal is to spread their power and take over they world. They are imperialists plain and simple. And they don't care about or respect other religions; "think of allah, think only of allah." Their goal is to snuff out other views and people that could challange them. And this is why, even though I am a pacifist, I would bomb these people to the ends of the earth, every god-damned day of the week. Where ever this form of sickness resides, it must be rooted out with whatever, and i do mean WHATEVER it takes, to keep the freee people of the world safe from these evil agents of murder, death, and destruction. Yes, it is a contradiction of character, but it's just necessary.
-- jimmie-the-weed (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 29, 2001.
WE REALLY need to bomb them into submission, and brutally instruct them with a good lesson on not to fuck with us. Because that is the only language they understand, unfortunately. And, those that support them need to know, that they are nest in line. How do you like them apples? How do you like us now?!
-- jimmie-the-weed (email@example.com), October 29, 2001.
"According to all the reports that I have seen there are no reporters on the ground in Taliban controlled areas of Afghanistan. If there were they would be executed as spies. So who is putting out all of this disinformation. The Taliban."
If you had bothered to read the article you would know that this 'disinformation' is being spread by Western journalists. The article is about US bombs dropping on non-Taliban controlled areas(ie deep inside N Alliance territory). With readers like this who needs disinformation?
As for "reporters on the ground in Taliban controlled areas" - Al-Jazeera (independent Arabic TV based in Qatar) is there and Western journalists have on occasion been invited into Afghanistan to see for themselves
-- clivus (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 29, 2001.